University has never been more expensive or more necessary. Today the job market is saturated with bachelor’s degrees and over qualified candidates in polka dot bow ties. We have all risen to higher education and now we are all the same. In an age where ‘knowing’ is only a two minute Google search away we must re-evaluate the way we learn (and maybe the bow ties too).
To combat this, educational innovators are challenging the institutions of the past by coming up with new modes of learning. Some universities are implementing ‘competency based learning’ programmes. Under these new programmes students are given full access to online university courses for a limited period of time. For a fraction of the cost, students can complete a degree in as little as three months. Yeah, now you’re listening.
Prestigious educational institutions question the quality of education the Internet can provide, while desperately grasping onto their pedestals for fear of falling. The Internet does not provide education; it is merely a tool that the student may choose to utilize to its full extent. Our current educational system is not broken it is outdated. The future of education counts on our own will to learn and stop looking at cat gifs, perhaps that is what the current institutions are most afraid of.
Recent TED Prize winner and educational researcher, Sugata Mitra proclaims “schools as we know them are obsolete”. While working near a slum in India Sugata Mitra decided to install a computer in the wall for the local children to use, much like a cash point. Without adult supervision, this group of poverty stricken children taught themselves how to use the computer. This launched a series of similar experiments called ‘Hole In the Wall’ across the globe and the results were staggering.
All over the world children were not only teaching themselves how to use computers, they were teaching themselves how to read and speak English in order to use the computers (now, that puts my solitaire skills to shame). It became evident to Mitra that “it’s not about making learning happen; it’s about letting learning happen.” Today Mitra has launched SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environments), making free downloadable toolkits available for any teacher anywhere to implement in their own schools. Arts universities have been following similar methods in recent years, teaching students how to think, instead of what to think.
It seems more than ever, that our brightest minds are our most creative minds. As learners of tomorrow we can create our own education that exceeds monetary value and our own expectations the real question is, will we?
Drawing Hands by M. C. Escher